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Well, after finally putting away the interlopers from the Motor City 101-100, our Pacers now are called upon to fend off that weirdest of NBA teams, the Utah Jazz. As the saying goes, there really is no rest for the weary.
Why do I find the Jazz weird? Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always found the whole idea of the “Utah Jazz” to be totally absurd.
First, there’s that basic incongruity between the names “Utah” and “Jazz” – an anomalous relic of an ancient NBA team move. It’s like the “Memphis Grizzlies” and the “L.A. Lakers”, only worse – a bizarre juxtaposition of nomenclature apropos of nothing. It is a state of affairs that was originally imposed on Salt Lake City’s populace that simply persisted without the consent or approval of SLC’s thoroughly un-hip and unjazzy Mormon populace.
Yeah, like you’d really go to Salt Lake City if you wanted to sit in a smoky bar and listen to the likes of Louie Armstrong or Jelly Roll Morton spewing innovative Dixieland riffs and licks. I’m not sure why anyone would go to SLC. But I wouldn’t go there for its “jazz”.
There’s basketball weirdness about Utah too. Here I refer to the strangely historical ineptitude of the Jazz – a team that has always seemed to have loads of talent and has always been on the cusp of winning an NBA title, but never managed to do so. There’s something crazy about a team possessed of talented players like Karl Malone and John Stockton never being able to pick and roll their way to even one NBA title.
And of course there’s the latest piece of weirdness – the demise of Jerry Sloan, the longest tenured coach in the NBA. Yup, here we have a coach that has been with Utah since the days of Brigham Young (23 seasons) suddenly “resigning” seemingly because he and his new Johnny come lately star player, Deron Williams, couldn’t see eye to eye.
And then, more weirdness. Two weeks after Sloan’s departure, Utah’s management trades away Williams. What’s up here? As Roy Hibbert might say: “That’s messed up!”
Anyway, owing to the Williams trade and the attendant personnel changes, Utah has to be coming into Conseco tonight a tad bit unorganized and, hopefully, discombobulated. Deron (arguably the best point guard in the NBA) has been traded away, like a Monopoly-game property, to New Jersey, the basketball equivalent of consignment to Purgatory. (If Deron didn’t think Salt Lake was a sufficient showcase for his talents, one wonders how he’ll feel about New Jersey. The only ones apt to be watching his act there will be Snooki and some of her inarticulate tanning booth buddies). In exchange for Deron, the Jazz obtained former New Jerseyites Derrick Favors and Devin Harris. The Jazz will thus be a little strange to one another tonight. It’ll be a sort of “Shake hands with your new teammates, fellas. Let’s play!” Hopefully, our Pacers can take advantage of this state of affairs and put Utah away.
Yeah, I know. It’s never that easy. But I can hope.
Of course, we 55ers will be there to give our guys all the help with Utah that we can, right?
Area 55 Midseason Awards!
Thanks to PS&E and Roy Hibbert for taking the time, after the Pistons win, to pass on the trophies, certificates, and Roy Bobble-Heads to the Area 55 Midseason Award Winners.
It was the closest thing to Oscar night that Indianapolis has seen in some time.
The winners (to the extent I remember them) were as follows:
Veteran Leadership: Yup, ‘twas I, Joe Murphy (IndyHoya), who copped the coveted Area 55 Mid-Season “Veteran Leadership Award.” I have been toasting myself ever since my win with massive shots of Rogaine (which I’ve been ingesting orally and not topically) and liberal squirts of Preparation H (which as an aging veteran, I utilize to minimize the pain and itch of hemorrhoidal tissue and ease the digestion and elimination of all the junk food I tend to take in at halftime at the famous Blue Flame Grill located behind Section 101.
As I mentioned in my tearful thank-you speech, I’m not sure, how much “leadership” I have managed to impart to all of the black sheep in Area 55. Leading the weirdos in Area 55 is a little like having Ray Charles acting as a seeing-eye dog for Stevie Wonder.
Anyway, thanks for all for the votes. I’m bobbling Roy’s Bobble-Head right now as I put these words to pen in festive celebration of my award!
Most Intense: This award went to Colin Lott, he of the painted faces and bellowing voice. Intensity is Lott’s middle name. It really is! His name is Colin Intensity Lott. His parents had a premonition at the little tyke’s birth when he sat up in his crib and stentorian fashion articulated: “GIVE ME SOME MILK! NOW!”
Best Dressed: This coveted award was technically given to El Pacero but was shared by Michael “Superfan” Hopson. Both got Roy Bobble-Heads for their well-earned sartorial splendor.
Most Improved: I can’t remember exactly who the hell it was that won this award. It was either PTO President Aaron (“Brickyard”) Coleman or renowned Area 55 zany and opposition hater Cole (“Cole the Mole”) Lewis. Both of them won Bobble-Heads for something or other and I think it might have been for this. God only knows what categories were involved but I think this was one of them. Both of them were so problematic to begin with that even a little bit of improvement was that much more noticeable.
Captain’s Award: This one went to Chris “Pacers Chants” Goff for all those handouts he puts together, game in, game out and that we largely use to wipe the salsa off our hands after eating our nachos. Some of his detractors claimed that Goff really won this award because he has both the best glasses (next to SuperFan’s) and the biggest ears of anyone in Area 55.
Area 55 MVP Award: This Award of Awards went to Kyle “Kielbeze” Brumback who, among other things, bears Pacers tattoos on multiple parts of his body and has named all his kids after Pacers players. Beze drives down for every home game from his humble abode in far-off and exotic Hartford City, Indiana to drunkenly direct most of Area 55’s chanting for better or for worse. Beze does yeoman work on this every game and was clearly deserving of the award.
By the way, at the end of the season, an intervention (hopefully attended by some of the Pacer players) will be organized to address Kielbeze’s many mental problems. He’s in heavy denial right now and his loyal wife Ashley needs all the help she can get.
Jazz Bear achieved some notoriety during a home game on January 14th with Cleveland. The incident began innocently enough with a bit of light-hearted banter. A Cavs fan had brought a little sign to the game, which read “Cavs Rule, Jazz Stink”. So, after half-time, Jazz Bear took an even bigger sign up to said fan with “I’m A Loser” emblazoned across the front. There followed a spate of pushing, shoving, and mutual sign-grabbing between foreign fan and home mascot. Jazz Bear then stole the fan’s hat. This is when things escalated. The fan took offense and started punching Jazz Bear in the head.
Mascot-punching is not considered part of the wholesome, family-oriented image that NBA Commish David Stern has been so manfully trying to create for the League. Accordingly, arena security intervened to stopped the punching and quickly escorted the angry Cavs fan away. But with the Jazz Bear’s taunts ringing loudly in his ear, a red mist descended over the fan, who broke free of security and took a run at the mascot. Unfortunately, the fan misjudged Jazz Bear’s punching ability and wound up flat on his back on the court.
This half-time entertainment supposedly wasn’t planned. I dunno. I’m going to run it by Pacero and Big John for their opinion. In any event, in keeping with our Newsletter’s reputation for brutal honesty and NBA journalistic integrity, it is presented in full below. Warning: Lots of violence and filthy language. Lock your kids in another room before viewing!
According to everything I’ve found, it was because he was tired of dealing with Deron Williams.
The relationship between Sloan and Williams had supposedly been “contentious” all season. It boiled over when they clashed in the locker room at halftime in the course of a February 9, 2011 home game loss to the Chicago Bulls. The confrontation between Sloan and Williams reportedly became so heated that Jazz players feared that they would come to blows.
A week before, Sloan had agreed to a one-year extension of his coaching contract. However, his growing frustration became public after a long meeting the next day with Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor. According to sources, after the meeting “[Sloan] decided that he was done.” Reportedly, he felt like Jazz owner Greg Miller was listening more to Williams than to him and that prompted the resignation. One source said Sloan had become tired of Williams “blaming everything on everyone else” and that, feeling undermined, Sloan told Jazz owner Greg Miller that if this is how he [Miller]wanted to run a franchise, “he could do it without him as coach.”
Sloan had a career regular-season win–loss record of 1,221–803, placing him third all-time in NBA wins. He was only the fifth coach in NBA history to reach the 1,000 victory milestone, and the only one to record more than 1,000 wins with one club. Sloan also coached for one team longer than anyone in NBA history. The 2009–10 season was his 22nd season (and 21st full season) as coach of the Jazz.
Sloan coached the Jazz to 15 consecutive playoff appearances from 1989–2003 and is one of only 3 coaches in NBA history with 15-plus consecutive seasons with a winning record (Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are the others). He led Utah to the NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998, but lost to the Chicago Bulls both times. Strangely, during his career, he never won a Coach of the Year award.
Assistant coach Ty Corbin was named as the Jazz’s acting head coach. League sources claim that Utah will move to secure Corbin as Sloan’s long-term replacement in the near future.
Did Gordon Hayward Play the Banjo in “Deliverance”?